Brian, First Base, Projections, Rankings

Brian’s Top-24 First Basemen Rankings and Projections for ’14


"Yeah, it's this big."

“Yeah, it’s this big.”

First base continues to be one of the deepest positions in fantasy. Food for thought: 14 of the men on this list of 24 ended the year ranked in Yahoo!’s top-100 players. In drafts this year, 15 of these guys are going top-100. There’s no excuse to not have a serviceable first baseman in 2014.

Here’s something else to think about: Albert Pujols’ ADP this year is 47.4. Albert freakin’ Pujols. Going in the 4th-5th round. Don’t get me wrong, the man who talks to photocopiers in ESPN commercials hasn’t been his usual self the past few seasons, but he’s Albert Pujols. Talk about potential value.

Potential busts at the position: Chris Davis (ADP: 8.1), Joey Votto (15.8), and Allen Craig (57.0). I have no doubt in my mind that Davis’ power is legit, but because of what he was just two seasons ago, I still have icky feelings. I’ve never been a Votto fan, so maybe I’m biased here, but when we’re celebrating a player who hit 24 HR with 74 RBI the year before, it makes me want to break things. And Craig is just a walking injury and if you’re a really good roulette player, go ahead, take a spin.

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Brian, First Base, Player Profile, Thaller

Player Profile: Prince Fielder


It's all smiles 'round here.

It’s all smiles ’round here.

The story behind Prince Fielder isn’t unlike that of a tall tale. A larger than life kid, son of a larger than life baseball player, toting around a gargantuan piece of lumber, launching home runs into different Detroit zip codes. It’s the sort of thing that, after Prince (he even has a majestic name) is dead and gone, people will still talk about, embellishing it even more. He’s two shakes away from owning an ox the size of Mount Rushmore.

Now that Fielder isn’t a prepubescent phenom, and his fable has transformed into non-fiction, Tiger fans have that glossed over “I just had Thanksgiving dinner” smile on their faces; perfectly content. Fielder isn’t complaining, either, as he always looks like he’s just had a turkey (or two)…oh, and he’s got $214 mil. stuffed under his kids’ race car beds.

Every folk tale also needs a villain, or a trickster, and in this case it’s Prince’s father, Cecil. Reportedly it’s a broken, if not completely nonexistent relationship between the two. Cecil, as told by Prince, was a terrible father. I’m sure if you ask Cecil, he will tell a different story (“Hey, what other kid got to take batting practice with Sweet Lou?”). Either way, Prince seems on a mission to stick it to his old man, with his words and his play on the field.

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Brian, First Base, Projections, Rankings

Brian’s Top 14 First Basemen Rankings and Projections for ’13


Don't let his name fool you.

Don’t let his name fool you.

[Editor’s Note: Mark Teixeira is expected to be out 8-10 weeks, putting his return date around the middle of June. He has fallen out of the Top 14]

It’s easy to fall in love with the protectors of first base (also known as the league’s best kissers) because they’re the producers, big boppers. They’re usually the easiest to project and most consistently reliable. Even in an off year, Albert Pujols still put up numbers that any other player would’ve been proud of. Billy Butler, the bigger, better known cousin of Ryan “Quentin” Butler, turned in an ox of a season. Even seemingly part-time player, Allen Craig, reminded us of Red Bird of old, Jack Clark.

But that doesn’t mean the position doesn’t come with its question marks. Joey Votto spent most of 2012 nursing a sore knee (not to worry, Jay Bruce kissed it better). Adrian Gonzalez had a power outage, changing his nickname from “A-Gone” to “Dirty Gonzalez.” Marcus Teixeira, who can’t seem to justify his hefty contract, didn’t come to play in ’12.

But with the influx of young talent (Freddie Freeman, Paul Goldschmidt, Eric Hosmer, and Anthony Rizzo), everyone in a standard 10-team league should get to first base this season.

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Brian, First Base, keeper, Rumblings

Joey Votto: The Splintery Canadian


Votto squints into the future.

Votto squints into the future.

There comes a time in all of our lives when we have to buy a new car (well most of us; New Yorkers/San Franciscans excluded). We go around trying to find the best deal. We want the most reliable automobile.

You wouldn’t spend Bentley money for a Mercedes, would you? Then why would you spend Miguel Cabrera money for a Joey Votto? Buying a car is just like buying a baseball player: everyone wants to get their money’s worth.

Votto has remarkable credentials: a career .316 hitter, two seasons with 100+ RBI, and a career OPS of .968. Is anyone doubting his ability? No. Votto is as talented as they come. Nobody is saying Joey isn’t a good car player, but when a player hasn’t reached 500 AB in two out of the past four seasons, it’s worth looking under the hood.

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Brian, Feature, First Base

The Problem with Adam Dunn


"I crush..."

I was tinkering around with one of my head-to-head teams the other day, trying to improve my lackluster production, and I started to look at the career of one of my bench players: Adam Dunn. I got so sidetracked that I didn’t even end up making any changes to my team, but I did discover something fairly interesting. Dunn, who used to be thought of as a top tier player, in both fantasy and reality, has never been to the playoffs in his 11-year career. This isn’t some enormously enormous finding, but it is when you couple it with these two facts: 1) Dunn has only once been on a .500 or better team and 2) each organization that Dunn left, via trade or free agency, either made the playoffs or went .500 or better (the 2011 Washington Nationals went 80-81 without Dunn)—or both—within two years of being Dunn-less.

What makes it even worse is the Cincinnati Reds were 85-77 in 2000, the year before he broke into the Bigs. The Arizona Diamondbacks, the team Dunn was traded to mid-2008 to help them make the playoffs, ended up stumbling down the stretch (22-22 with Dunn) and missed the playoffs by two games to the dreaded Dodgers. In 2010, the Chicago White Sox were 88-74 (you guessed it!) without Dunn. Last year, in his first year with the club, the ChiSox went 79-83 and he hit a paltry .159, gathering only 66 hits, while striking out 177 times.

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First Base, Jared, Player Profile, Third Base

Player Profile: Miguel Cabrera


Miguel could be on the field a lot this year due to Detroit's terrible infield defense. Finding a snack wherever he can will be crucial.

Benjamin Franklin once observed that the only guarantees in life are death and taxes. For reasons unknown, Franklin forgot to mention Miguel Cabrera. Cabrera is one of the most consistent sluggers in the game today and Franklin would surely take him #1 overall in his fantasy draft. [Editor’s Note: What would Ben Franklin name his team? The Franklin Hot Stoves? Been-Jammin’ Deborah Read? If you have any better ideas use the comments section].

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Butler, First Base, First Basemen, Player Profile

Player Profile: Eric Hosmer



"Follow me to freedom!"

Back in the 70s and 80s, before the economic landscape of baseball became a proletarian struggle for survival of the “haves” versus the “have nots,” the Kansas City Royals were one of the game’s premier franchises. Between 1976 and 1985 they won six AL West championships. Since winning the World Series in ’85, however, they haven’t even made the playoffs. The absence of a hard salary cap (“luxury tax” should be reserved for Monopoly boards, not as a means of ushering wealthy clubs toward fiscal temperance) and the great disparity in television and radio revenue–the Yankees have their own freaking TV network–coupled with poor drafting and player development, has led to generational stretches of futility for some formerly proud organizations.

In 2011 the Royals showed signs of returning to relevance by virtue of an influx of young hitters produced by their farm system. First baseman Eric Hosmer is foremost among them, finishing with a slash line of 66/19/78/.293/11 in 523 at-bats. Kila Ka’aihue began the season as the starter at first base. By early May, his languid hitting confirmed the long held suspicion that the “Tryin’ Hawaiian” is a dog with fleas with no real business on a major league roster. Hosmer was called up on May 6, despite having fewer than 300 career at-bats above A-ball. He latched onto the starting job and never looked back.

Open at your own risk.

He certainly looks like a star, and most experts have him in the top ten at his position. I have him ninth in my rankings, mostly because, unlike my esteemed colleague, I am not ready to start shoveling dirt over Paul Konerko and Lance Berkman juuust yet. I think those old dogs still have at least one good season in them. Rotobrian and I exchanged heated words on the subject. In retaliation he overnighted me a fart in a Ziploc; it smelled like the inside of a Ziploc. Urban myth debunked.

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